SportMed Practitioners anchored Canadian Medical team at Olympic and Paralympic Games

We take you behind the scenes this month with our timely Vancouver Games Blog, an insider perspective on sport medicine and science headlines, talking points, statistical data and emerging trends.

While the host country is responsible for providing comprehensive medical services within the Athlete Village and at all the venues, both practice and competition, many National Olympic Committees bring their own team of physicians, therapists and other health care practitioners. The Canadian medical team was in a unique position for these games being dedicated to the Canadian team while working in their own country alongside members of the Host Medical Service team, many of whom they knew well as colleagues in the local sport medicine community.

Dr. Bob McCormack served as Chief Medical Officer Canadian Olympic Team and it was his goal to optimize everything possible for the athletes, so they could have the best performance as they proudly represented Canada. After coaches, the athletes rank their health care providers as the most important part of their support team. The team medical practitioners play a vital role in keeping the athletes on top of their game.

Dr. McCormack commented prior to the start of the Games – “personally, this was my fifth Olympics and my third as the CMO. In addition to the organizational role I am also the coordinating physician for the National Curling program and am the medical lead for the Long Track Speed Skating team”. When he was not in meetings, or dealing with minor crises in the clinic, he could be found at those competitions.

Physiotherapist Marc Rizzardo, a SportMedBC Board Member, was appointed two years ago as the Chief Therapist for the Canadian Medical team. He will also be in the same position for the London Summer Games in 2012. Marc’s responsibility was to oversee the team of therapists selected for the Games and to ensure that they had everything they needed to treat athletes both in their clinic, which was located on the main floor of the Canadian residence in the Vancouver Athlete Village and out at the venues. The Canadian medical clinic was well equipped and even had a hot and cold pool situated outside on their patio as seen in the picture below.

Having access to the Host Medical Service’s Polyclinic and the full array of services available there (from dentistry to optometry, imaging to ENT) made both Marc and Bob’s jobs a little easier than had the games been in unfamiliar territory. As Bob indicated, however, they still put in the same number of hours looking after the Canadian team.

“The Games are always an intense period for all the Health and Science team. Eighteen to twenty hour days were often the norm and it was critical to be able to still able to deliver at the end of working four weeks straight. To survive one not only has to be motivated, but needs to develop strategies to “survive”. Having said that, it is always a great opportunity and I know everyone on the Canadian Olympic HST would say there is no other place they would rather be than supporting our athletes.”

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